Traditional and digital marketing are not mutually exclusive in Africa

Updated on 23 February 2016

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Traditional and digital marketing are not mutually exclusive in Africa

I am an advocate for digital marketing. It has been my bread and butter for many years now. However, I am disappointed at the slow rate at which the internet infrastructure has been rolled out on the continent. This means that certain digital marketing strategies cannot fly and help to grow a business, despite how smart the underpinning idea is.

Mobile networks played their part in providing connectivity, but the evolution of data based communication services like Skype and Whatsapp has bled their incomes and thus stalling their penetration ambitions.

The high cost of data bundles is another culprit. Many people are forced to use utility apps more than the consumption of online content where ads can be displayed to influence their buying behaviour. Additionally the online population in Africa is thus very limited. Out of a population of over a billion, only about 300 000 have access to the internet. This represents a modest 28.6% penetration rate.

Thus, the full potential of digital marketing on the continent has not been tapped into.

Realising the paucity of internet access in most African countries, Facebook has created an ambitious interventionist strategy of setting up the requisite infrastructure. In layman’s terms what they are doing is to create a market for their advertisers. No freebies by the way.

What is the solution then? How can marketers benefit from the clear advantages brought by digital media? By integrating traditional and digital marketing.

Best of both worlds

Industry expert Matt Kates is of the opinion that “the most effective marketing strategies are those that incorporate both traditional and digital elements into a cohesive package that elicits a desired behavior from the consumer.” I concur with this sentiment.

A simple example of how integration can be achieved is where a TV ad incorporates a brand’s social media tactical campaign. According to an article on Forbes that addresses this issue, “the most innovative brand and social media managers are blending the best of reach media and tying it to measureable social media campaigns for a superior brand experience.”

Kia Motors is cited as one company that is executing this hybrid strategy effectively. Those who are not doing this lose on the big opportunities that are unlocked when the reach of traditional media meets with the engagement of social media.

Increased reach and longevity

Additionally, digital media extends the life of traditional campaigns.

Newspapers, TV and radio still rank high as the most consumed media in Africa and marketers ignore them at their own peril.

In my research for the Yebo Transit Media (YTM) sales kit, I discovered that the South African commuter market has a combined household income of R137 billion rands ($8.73) billion per month.

Trying to reach the 19.5 million commuters via digital marketing alone will not achieve the desired outcomes. Transit TV campaigns are more effective but social media widens their reach through word of mouse marketing.

I close with Matt’s observation:

“While digital has emerged in recent years as a cost-effective way to drive marketing results, it is important for brands to not overlook traditional methods that can help amplify and take their campaigns to the next level”.

About the author: Joseph Neusu is an SEO expert, content marketer, author, speaker and consultant. You can follow him on Linkedin here

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